An interview with… ANDREW BRANDON CARROLL

Andrew Brandon Carroll is a writer from Chicago who started writing poetry in 2015 and short fiction in 2018.

 I know you started writing in 2015, what was the first thing you wrote?

That’s a story within a story (laughs). I was living in Lafayette, Indiana at the time and was in a very dark period in my life. I was fighting an eviction, had a very nasty break up with an ex girlfriend, my car was repossessed and I had little to no money to my name. So I took a walk to a local dollar tree, picked up a notebook and had the intention early on to use it as a journal-type. No poems in mind. I wrote my thoughts at the time: The anger. The fear. The uncertainty of everything.  It turned into a very long poem with bad grammar (laughs). And the rest is history as the old saying goes…

Do you also write short fiction?

Yes, I started around 2018. Once again, another story within a story. I wrote a poem and maybe a week after writing it I went back to it. There was something about it that stuck out the most about it. I started to put together characters, the backstory, the time period and more in my head. What’s wild is that I didn’t create any pre-production notes. I literally just used the poem to weave the story. That’s the only poem (up to this point) I’ve used to create a short fiction book.  I have 5 short fiction books under my name.

Can you tell us how you decided to use Instagram as a vessel for some of your writing and which of your work can be found on your page?

Around April this year, I was looking at all my material and was thinking “Goddamn, I have a shit-ton of work” (laughs). So of course there is a long term plan with my work, but I figured for the time being let’s just release some “appetisers” for now to get people involved with my material and so far it’s been nothing but love from friends, family and peers in the writing industry. Moments of Black, A Trio of My Thoughts Vol 1 & 2 and Division Among Humans, those projects are all on my Instagram page, free to view.

Moments Of Black came out on your Instagram page in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Was this something you’ve written before the 25th of May, or it was written as reaction to that event? Also, how do you think the indie movement reacted to that tragedy, in general?

To answer the first question, that project (which personally is my favorite one out of the ones I’ve released so far) was written during the peak of the protests and riots that were happening across the country and the world. After dropping Vol 2 of The Trio series, I actually wrote MOB right away. Like the same week.  A lot of people were asking me my thoughts about my own history with racism/situations with the cops, so I decided the best way to express them is through writing.

Maybe it’s just me, but can we say that both of A trio of my thoughts have a hint of hope in their messages?

Absolutely. The last 10 years of my life have been quite the eye-opening events and lessons. So with most of my material there’s the lesson/event, the consequence, and the overall feeling of “well hopefully there’s a tomorrow for me, so I can get another chance to become one day better” if that makes any sense.

Division Among Humans can be read with different lenses: the American riots, the American elections, the Covid-19 outbreak, the world’s economy, global warming… what was your inspiration behind that?

Everything you just said (laughs). Yes, all of those items were the forces behind that project. One of the lines from the first poem (The New Pastime) really sums up society’s well-being: “Mudslinging is the new American sport”. It is truly where we are at. Log into your Facebook or Twitter right now and you’ll see nothing but back and forth. All day & everyday. I recently deleted the Facebook app off my phone and did some unfollowing on Instagram and never felt better because it’s nothing but toxic conversations and thoughts. You see people being so wrapped up in their political alliances that they are willing to destroy friendships and relationships so their “facts” can be right versus just simply agreeing to disagree on some matters and move on.

Do you come from a literary background?

Yes and no. I don’t have a degree in literature but growing up my favorite subjects in school were English & History, so I was very much involved with paying more attention to those two. Also I did take a Speech class during my short time in college. That class actually helped me break my fear of speaking in front of people. I forgot the teacher’s name but he was beyond awesome, so shout out to him.

What is your next project? What’s next for you?

I’m dropping two more free projects this year, with one of them being Vol 3 of A Trio of My Thoughts. It’ll be the last instalment of the Trio series. Then another concept project. I have some really cool ideas that I’m tossing around for both. I want to get my hands into another short fiction project as well. Not sure if I want to expand on an existing universe or do another original story. I have some movement going on in my personal and professional life, so it’s a matter of finding the right time space to figure out the direction. Long term wise there’s something in the works of course. End of the year or early 2021 everyone will find out what that’s about. It is what you think it is, but it’s not at the same time.

Do you have a writing process?

With my poems, I’ll just write. Write anything that’s on my mind at the time. I’ll leave it alone for a few hours (or sometimes for a day), then I’ll come back to it and clean it up. I always come up with the title last, only because I think it’s easier to write about something versus writing the title first and then forcing something out to match said title. I hate forcing my writing. My short stories, I treat it like a TV show/movie. There’s pre-production (the cast, the setting, the storyline, the year, etc, etc), production (the actual creation of the story) and then post-production (editing/cleaning it up).

Can you tell us something about your beginning in the indie world?

It was really simple. I started to follow certain hashtags and showed love on other writer’s pages and such. They would do the same on mine, then we would follow each other. I would do that on an everyday basis. Eventually my audience and feedback on my posts would grow. I have a weekly concept that I do on my IG story (named We Are Indie Wednesdays. Cheap plug folks) that shouts outs my fellow writers, authors, editors or anyone in the independent scene.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Trying to sound and write like everyone else. Please don’t. Create your lane and own that shit.

Does writing energise or exhaust you?

Depending on the subject matter. An example is the last short fiction book I wrote. It was a spin-off prequel to a previous book. It was such a heavy book, especially towards the end of the story, it took a lot out of me mentally and by the time I was done with it I was tired and took some time away from writing in general.

What was a prominent genre on your bookshelf growing up?

Dr Seuss and comic books (laughs).

Did you write as a child?

Not really and if I did it was nothing but a bunch of chicken scratch. Just mostly reading, action figures and having a big imagination.

 How do you manage to fit your writing with the other demands of life? Are you good at managing your time?

Oh yes. That might be my strongest trait, having a balance with everything between my writing, my personal and professional life. Even if there’s a curve ball in my planning, I can adjust on the fly if I need to. On Sunday nights I always map out my week. It brings me peace of mind knowing I’m getting my business handled on a daily basis and not missing anything off my list.

Do you want to give us some of your contacts?

Yes! Follow me on Instagram @drewbcarroll. I’m creating a GoodReads page as well, so I will have that link info up forthcoming. I do have a Facebook page but I absolutely fucking despise Facebook at the moment. I don’t share any of my work there,  so no need to give out that info (unless you find me, then cool).

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